PROMPT #1 - RESPONSE

Tara's eyes blinked open. The sunlight streamed in through the slated blinds, casting long bars of warm light across the bed. She stretched an arm above her head, groaning as she felt sleep stretch from her waking limbs. Rolling to her side, she smiled. He was still asleep. He lay on his side facing her, his face peaceful and handsome. Tara knew every line, every inch of that face. The way his eyebrows furrowed even in his sleep at something perplexing. How his soft lips parted to lightly draw in a sweet breath of air. The straight line of his perfect nose. As she watched him sleep, the dream she had just woken from slowly crept back into her mind. Her stomach tightened.
He moaned softly, then slowly blinked his blue eyes open.
"Good morning." He smiled at her. She tried to share the smile back with him, but the dream had caught her fully now in her waking moments. "Tara, honey, what's wrong?" He nudged himself up on the pillow, his brows furrowed in concern.
Tara sighed. "I just had the weirdest dream about you."
"Is that so? Weird huh...was I rich? Now that would be weird."
Tara lightly smacked him on the arm. "No Brent, not that." She flopped flat onto her back, her eyes tracing the faint lines on the ceiling. "I dreamed...I dreamed that you were gone."
"Ok..."
"That was it really. I woke up in the morning, and you were gone. No traces of you. No pictures on the walls, no note on the table. Everything about you was just...gone. Then I realized...you were never there. I had imagined you. Or something. And - and I was all of a sudden just so...alone."
Brent scooted closer to Tara. He brushed a stray strand of hair off of her face, then leaned in and kissed her cheek lightly. "Well, I'm here."
"I know. I know. But what if...what if you were gone? If you left? If something happened and it ended up being just me?" Tara turned her face to him. Her eyes burned with tears that fought to flow down her cheeks. "Brent, its not that I can't be alone. I can. But...I can't be without you."
Brent drew in a breath of air and held it a moment. Then he exhaled slowly, his eyes searching hers. Reaching forward, he grabbed her by the waist and drew her in, holding her tight to him. she could feel the warm heat of his body, the strength of his arms as he lovingly held her close. "Tara, I am not going anywhere. Ever. Even if my life ended, I would be right here, holding you, always. You have to know that. You are stuck with me, and I could never hold anyone other than you."
Tara wiped an escaped tear from her cheek. She felt silly. She didn't know why she let these dreams get to her so bad. Every night for the last three nights she had been having them. And every night they became more intense, more real. They stayed with her through her day, reminding her that at night she would return to their grasp. A sob suddenly escaped from her throat.
"Tara. Tara, honey. Nothing will take this from us. I promise. If I had to fight away death itself. If I was...was held captive against my will. I would fight to return to you. No woman is you. And my life...my life is you. Do you believe me?"
Tara looked into his eyes. His perfect blue eyes. They were full of love, full of concern.
"Tara, I need to know, do you believe me?" 
"Of course Brent. Of course I believe you." She leaned in and softly kissed him. "I love you."
"I love you too." His brow furrowed again. Suddenly, his voice came out more urgent, more intense. "I love you, always. Remember, I will never let go.
"Brent, what's wrong? What's - "
Everything faded. A bright light suddenly blinded her, causing her to drag her hand across her burning eyes. Something tugged on her arm. Squinting past her hand, she saw an IV line taped tight against her flesh.
"She's awake."
The voice was distant. A voice she didn't know.
"Tara, can you hear me?"
"What...what..."
"Tara, there was an accident. You are fine. You have been unconscious now for three days. Luckily all you suffered was the minor concussion and some bruises."
"Brent. Where's Brent?"
The room went silent. All she could hear was the beep of a nearby machine and the uncomfortable rustle of someone's coat.
"I'm sorry Tara. He didn't make it."
Tara's whole body shook. "No. Please, no..." Sobs tore from her as she gasped for air. Rolling to her side, she buried her face into the flat pillow. She could hear the footsteps of the doctor and nurses leaving the room. But she didn't care. All she could so was cry nonstop into the now soaked pillow.
Slowly, ever so slowly, she felt it. Her sobs quieted as she clenched her eyes shut. The warm, familiar draw of his arms wrapped around her, holding her tight.
Please, she thought, please please don't leave me.
As if on the flutter of a breeze, she heard, whispered softly in her ear: Never.


(Word count: 886)

Jenni Merritt

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